building a stage

building a stageBuilding a Christmas play stage and set from scratch can be accomplished with few supplies and little skill.

A great Christmas pageant stage helps set the scene for the amazing production that your cast and crew have spent so long putting together.

These ideas will help you build a stage and set from scratch, with very little technical skill needed!

DIY Christmas Play Stage

If you are literally working from the ground up, don’t fret! A basic riser stage can be easily assembled by the most novice of handymen. Begin by collecting old wooden shipping pallets. These can be found behind grocery stores, near dumpsters or on Craigslist. Make sure they are sturdy and can support your weight. Avoid pallets that have any rotten wood or chemicals spilled on them. Keep in mind that this stage will be temporary and will not be able to be relocated after it is built.

Arrange the pallets into a square or rectangle configuration. Consider doing three smaller staggered squares for different groups of cast (i.e. angels on one small stage, shepherds on another, etc.). Secure all of the pallets together with carriage bolts. If you have an older, and therefore heavier cast, use 2x4s through the opening of the pallets to support more weight.

Once the pallets are secured together, cover the top with sheets of plywood and secure with wood screws. Make sure that plywood seams are as close together as possible to avoid trip hazards. Finally, use canvas or fabric drop cloths to cover the entire stage and tack them down with a staple gun.

One thing to keep in mind with this kind of stage set-up–the children will have to step up and down when entering and exiting a scene and lighting will likely be dim. To avoid shepherds going down like dominos, string white Christmas lights around the base of the stage so the cast can clearly see where to step.

DIY Christmas Pageant Sets

Set design and creation can be a really fun task for the artistic kids in your cast. Fortunately, sets can be easily created by anyone with a little bit of imagination. Backdrops can be painted onto fabric and hung, or cut from foam sheeting or plywood. Foam sheeting will be the easiest to work with as it is cheap, light, and easy to cut. You can buy it at any home improvement or hardware store.

If you are doing a nativity Christmas play, create backgrounds with dunes, palm trees, and stable buildings. Cut and paint the foam sheeting, then secure 2x4s to the front and back to form stands. Staggering the placement of the background images will help give a sense of depth to the scene. Straw on the set floor and straw bales will provide texture. Depending on the scene, utilize furniture covered in drop cloths.

Whether your Christmas play stage rivals a professional New York City theatre, or resembles something out of Charlie Brown’s Christmas, remember to focus on the more important message of the production–the birth of our Lord Jesus.

Have you build your own Christmas play stage or set in the past? Share your stories and experiences in the comments section below!